Tag Archives: Queens Centers for Progress

Courier brings holiday cheer, toys to kids at Queens Centers for Progress’ Apple Preschool


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER

Santa brought smiles and of course toys to the good boys and girls at Queens Centers for Progress’ Apple Preschool in Jamaica for The Queens Courier’s annual holiday gift drive.

Ringing his bell and calling out a jolly “ho ho ho,” some of the kids were a little shy of Old Saint Nick, but most of the around 90 students were excited to see him and receive the donated toys on Friday, December 13.

The Apple Preschool program offers children with disabilities between three to five years old a large variety of educational and therapeutic services, including speech, occupational and physical therapy and counseling. The children interact with special education teachers and clinicians who work on language skills, cognitive, motor and social development. After participating in the program, the majority of the children become integrated into the public school system.

Toys were donated to The Courier’s holiday gift drive by Courier readers and advertisers as well as from Assemblymember Edward Braunstein, who also received a donation for the drive on behalf of Boy Scout Troop 49 of Sacred Heart in Bayside, and Victor G. Mimoni, director of communications for Councilmember Dan Halloran, who additionally gave a generous toy donation.

“A lot of these kids come from low-income households. This extra little treat means a lot to them and their parents,” said teacher Missy Karvecky.

She prepared her class for Kriss Kringle’s visit by reading them a book about Santa called It’s Christmas David.

The day was extra special for Tommy, 3, who was also celebrating his birthday Friday, and had just joined the Apple Preschool program two weeks earlier.

“This is the happiest I’ve seen him,” said his teacher, Julie Fidelman.

“It was wonderful to see [all the kids’] faces light up after they saw Santa,” she said.

Another student, Jayden, 4, was also happy to see Santa and looking forward to going home and racing his new toy truck.

“I loved it,” he said. “I’m going to tell my mommy [about Santa’s visit].”

 

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The Queens Courier collecting toys, clothing for holiday gift drive


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Help make the holidays bright.

The holiday season has arrived, and The Queens Courier will once again be collecting toys and clothing to be donated this year to the Queens Centers for Progress’ Apple Preschool in Jamaica for our annual holiday gift drive.

The Apple Preschool program offers children with disabilities between three to five years old a large variety of educational and therapeutic services, including speech, occupational and physical therapy and counseling. The children interact with special education teachers and clinicians who work on language skills, cognitive, motor and social development. After participating in the program, the majority of the children become integrated into the public school system.

Apple Preschool is asking for new, unused and unwrapped donations for their students, 31 girls and 52 boys between the ages of three and four.

Donations can be dropped off at The Courier’s office, located at 38-15 Bell Boulevard in Bayside or at People’s United Bank branches at 8989 Union Turnpike in Glendale or 34-51 48th Street in Long Island City.

 

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Program directors say restored funds for disabled not enough


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

The looming cuts to the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) have been restored, but only by a fraction.

Initially, the state’s budget called for a total slash of $240 million from OPWDD services, but the final budget gave back $30 million. Program administrators say this is still not enough.

“The challenge our industry faces is a growing demand with a diminishing revenue stream. The work force now has to shrink,” said Peter Smergut, executive director at Life’s WORC.

Life’s WORC, a program geared towards assisting developmentally disabled individuals lead active and independent lifestyles, has a 76 percent cost of labor. Now, because of the cuts, they have had to “freeze” employee positions, not fill other positions and also look to reallocate resources in ways they would not have traditionally thought to do, Smergut said.

Disabled services organizations rely heavily on funding from OPWDD, and without it, some groups find it difficult to make any concrete adjustments in their spending.

“It’s tough to be in an environment when you’re relying on this funding, and the funding is constantly changing,” said Dr. Susan Provenzano of The Shield Institute.

Initially, the State Senate and the Assembly voted to restore $120 million to the OPWDD budget. Assemblymember Nily Rozic said that along with community groups such as the Queens Centers for Progress, they attempted to bring the necessity of a full restoration to the forefront.

“Through subsequent negotiations, we were able to secure $30 million for these critical services, but not nearly enough,” Rozic said. “I will continue to speak out on the need for a greater restoration to avoid program closures, staff layoffs and irreparable harm to some of our state’s most vulnerable residents.”

Rozic did say however that the state budget provides a balanced spending plan that addresses fundamental issues facing families, including increasing the state’s minimum wage and providing schools with the funding needed for children to receive a quality education.

“Any cuts are devastating,” said Provenzano. “We have to provide stability. We have to constantly be advocating, and it leaves a lot of questions for us approaching the future.”

 

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Tradition makes the holidays bright for kids


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

“I love seeing Santa!” said Natasha Ayala, a student at the Queens Centers for Progress (QCP), as she pet her new stuffed dog. “I have my own dog at home, too.”

Last week, the Jamaica Rotary made its yearly donation of hundreds of toys to QCP as dozens of excited children eagerly opened their presents.

“The children really look forward to it every year,” said Maryann McAleer of QCP.

Roughly 250 toys were delivered this year to children with developmental disabilities, including cerebral palsy.

Santa Claus and a snowman went class-to-class, delivering Barbie dolls and toy trucks to bright-eyed kids.

The Jamaica Rotary has been making this its holiday tradition for the past 12 years, and each year is just as exciting as the last.

“It’s a joyous day for them, they love it,” said McAleer of the students. “The Jamaica Rotary Club makes these children extremely happy.”